Do I Lack Faith?

I’ve been reading this devotional book that was written by someone who is really big on faith promise stuff. Now, before I delve into this any deeper, let me just say that I do believe faith is important and there are tons of scriptures about having faith and living in faith and speaking in faith. And I believe in every single one of them. I believe in claiming God’s promises and speaking life over my loved ones.

So my problem with the faith promise stuff isn’t a lack of belief, but more of a disappointment in the way that it is presented. Because when you tell a story about standing outside your house reciting Psalm 91 when a twister is headed directly your way then tell me that God can vanquish my storms just like He did yours… It’s not that I don’t believe it; it’s just that I question the sanity of staring down a tornado. And I don’t doubt that this family was clearly instructed by God to pray over their house. I don’t doubt that God worked this miracle for them. But you can bet I wasn’t standing in the rain this week, telling Hurricane Sandy to bypass my house in Jesus’ name.

There’s a difference between acting in obedience and asking God for a miracle. If you strongly feel that God is telling you to do something that doesn’t make sense in the natural, by all means, step out in faith. But don’t tell me that if I have faith, God will do X, Y, Z. Because He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want Him to.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been there. I’ve been the ten-year-old girl, standing in her grandparent’s bedroom and watching the last shred of life slip from her grandmother’s lungs.

Looking back, I know that there wasn’t an ounce of my ten-year-old body that didn’t believe God could heal her. I was young and innocent and didn’t have reason to doubt that God would do anything BUT take that cancer away from her. Instead, that cancer took her away from me. And in the months that followed her death I started to wonder if maybe I had done something wrong. Maybe I didn’t pray hard enough. Maybe I didn’t believe deep enough. And maybe God would have healed her if only I had gotten those things right.

That’s a terrible thing for a ten-year-old to believe. For anyone to believe.

So I said to God, “I need answers.” Then I picked up The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ and started to read that instead. I came to this part that tells the story of the paralyzed man who was lowered through the roof to meet Jesus (Luke 5). In the book, the story cuts off at the part that said the man’s sins were forgiven. Then the author grudgingly fills in the rest of the story before posing the question: “If the story had ended without Jesus providing physical healing, how would you feel about it?”

And I found that God provided my answer in the midst of Randy Singer’s musings:

“But at the end of the day, we must get comfortable with an unyielding truth: Jesus will always answer our prayers for forgiveness, but he doesn’t always answer our prayers for healing. At least not the way we want them answered.”

I think this passage of Scripture makes it pretty clear what God’s priorities are. When God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to, it’s not that He’s punishing us for a lack of faith; it’s because He is busy healing a much deeper hurt. And maybe that’s the greater miracle.

Maybe that’s what our hearts were really asking for all along.

Whatever Happened to World Peace?


Blame it on the fact that I have close ties with a missions organization that keeps me updated on what is happening all around the world, but I’ve been thinking about the elusive subject of world peace. I know, I sound like I belong in a beauty pageant, but before you start congratulating me on my ambitions to bring harmony to the universe, let me just say that I don’t think it’s possible.

I’m not trying to get all political, but when I hear people talk about the upcoming election as if it will make or break America, I just have to shake my head. Because in my opinion, America is already broken—yet another piece of a fallen world. And when I take a Biblical look at what has to happen before Jesus returns, I don’t see things getting any better. I just don’t. But the real reason I don’t believe we will ever achieve world peace is verses like Luke 12:52:

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

The simple fact of the matter is that when Jesus came to earth, the people of Israel were expecting a Messiah who would liberate them from Rome. But did Jesus ever involve Himself in earthly politics? Well, aside from the time He instructed someone to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21), He didn’t really talk much about the nation that ruled over Israel.

He did make it abundantly clear, however, that His Kingdom is not of this world. Therefore, the peace He offers is not for our world, but for our hearts.

So many people will tell you that God wants peace and prosperity for His people as if that means we will live a life of ease. Tell that to the believers who are in prison. Tell that to the Christians in Egypt who are being forced out of their homes for bearing God’s name. Tell that to Jesus as He suffered and died on a cross for sins that were not His own.

God does want us to be prosperous, but maybe His idea of prosperity is a little different from ours. My family has never had much by the world’s standards, but we have harmony in our home. I’ll take that kind of prosperity over wealth and discord any day.

We live in a fallen world that will always have division. There will be hatred and war and persecution until the day Jesus comes back to set everything right for good. But no matter what takes place on the surface of our world, the peace of God is transforming lives throughout the nations.

Last weekend, I was at a conference where two men who are very dear to my heart were called up on stage. The speaker then explained that one man had come from a long line of Arabs while the other had come from a long line of Jews. “Tell them how much you love the Lord and each other,” he instructed.

Then I witnessed the only hug I’ve ever seen receive a standing ovation.

Because while Muslims and Jews will be at odds until the end of the world, God took these two enemies and made them brothers. He vanquished a hatred that was centuries old and replaced it with a love that knows no bounds. And that’s why I believe that the peace Jesus offers is more than skin deep; it sinks into the deepest part of our souls and heals our most broken pieces so that we can be at peace even as the world is crumbling around us.

And that, I believe, is so much better than the temporary fix we’ve been waiting for all our lives.

You Can’t Touch Her

I watched a handful of preschoolers chase one of their little friends around a playground when, suddenly, the little girl who was being chased made a beeline for my arms. I held her to my chest and shooed the other kids away with my free arm while explaining, “I’m base. You can’t touch her as long as I’ve got her.”

So the kids backed up and waited until Charleigh gained the courage to run again. She jumped up, knowing she didn’t have to outrun the others for long—just long enough. Once around the playground, back into my arms, and repeat.

Except one time, Charleigh didn’t make it back into my arms. One time, she didn’t quite run fast enough. One time, I watched her get tackled by one of her little friends. She was taking a beating, and even though they were all laughing and enjoying themselves, I knew it was only a matter of time before things got out of control and someone got injured.

It was time to change the rules.

I stood to my feet, cleared a few preschoolers out of my path, and pulled Charleigh into my arms. “Ah, ah,” I warned when the other kids rushed at us. “You can’t touch her; I’m base, remember?”

I’ve been replaying that scene in my mind for weeks because, sometimes, I feel a lot like Charleigh. When life swells up all around me and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, I just know that I’ve got to make it back to God’s arms and it will all be okay. He holds me close as I catch my breath and my heart rate returns to normal. He soothes me and comforts me, stroking my hair, sheltering me from all those things that threaten to consume me.

Because He’s base, remember? And nothing can touch me as long as I’m in His arms.

Then I’m off again to repeat the same pattern. Only sometimes, like Charleigh, I don’t quite make it back in time. Sometimes I find that life overwhelms me and I’m lying facedown in the dirt. And just when I think I’ll never get back up, the rules change. The base moves.

And God is there, picking me up, brushing me off, and saying to my struggles, “Ah, ah. You can’t touch her; I’m base, remember?”

Sometimes God lets us run to Him. He stands there with open arms, waiting to be the shelter we so desperately need because He wants for us to seek Him. He wants for us to declare our need for Him. And we’re the ones who have to come crawling back to fall at His feet and say, “God, I need You right now. I need You so bad.”

But sometimes… Sometimes we’re in too deep. Sometimes it hurts too much to crawl. Sometimes we can’t quite make it back on our own.

And that’s when the rules change.

That’s when God stands to His feet and pushes our struggles out of the way until there’s nothing left but Him and us. That’s when we’re safe again.

So if life is beating you down, just turn around and see that He’s standing there, arms outstretched, waiting for you to fall into the warmth of His embrace. Waiting for you to let Him set things right.

Because He’s base, remember? And nothing can touch you as long as you’re in His arms.

The Night We Lit Up the World

I recently read a book called Permission to Speak Freely, which may explain some of the recent posts/conversations/letters I’ve been writing. There was a lot of the book that I disagreed with. A lot of things didn’t resonate with me or sit well in my stomach at all. But I loved the principal of it. I loved the idea that we all need to be a little bit more vulnerable. We all need permission to speak freely.

But one of the quotes that really struck me wasn’t about speaking freely at all. Toward the end of the book, the author quotes a friend saying, “As we grow up, we learn a great deal about the mysteries that perplexed us when we were small. We learn that the sun doesn’t go to bed after all. Our earth just turns away from her for a bit. The stars that look like diamonds sparkling in the sky are really nasty balls of flaming gas. And bit by bit, we surrender the magic that was our constant companion.”

I stared at those words. Blinked a few times. And then I dared to ask why. What’s wrong with believing in sleepy suns and skies filled with diamonds? What’s wrong with holding onto magic?

And I know I talk all the time about embracing magic and wonder and living that childlike faith that Jesus told His disciples they must have. It’s because I believe in it. I believe in letting yourself be awed by things that others may try to reason away.

Last week I spent an evening with two, beautiful preschoolers who introduced me to the magic of glow sand. We walked outside with our containers of blue and green and yellow and orange, sprinkling it across the ground until you would have believed that fairies had been dancing there.

The world was filled with wonder. The yard was aglow with pixie dust. I had it on my hands and in my hair and even between my toes. We laughed and we danced and we felt we could fly. It was magical. Absolutely magical.

But when you think about it, it was just sand. Gritty, dirty sand that would, in four hours, lose its sparkle. Like Cinderella’s carriage turning back into a pumpkin, the magic would be gone. And I would be in desperate need of a shower.

Most people might have considered that before they threw it in their hair. Most people might have been content to let the sand spill out on the ground, lighting up the night for a moment only to be forever lost to the world when morning came around. And you can probably bet that most people would not have sprinkled it over a friend’s shoulders while shouting, “Think happy thoughts!”

Because most people aren’t such big fans of Peter Pan and Neverland and all that “second star to the right and straight on ’til morning” nonsense. Most people, as it was quoted in Permission to Speak Freely, have bit by bit surrendered the magic that was our constant companion.

But I, for one, am not content to be one of those people.

I, for one, will continue to believe in suns that fall asleep and diamonds that sparkle in the night sky.

I, for one, will continue to light up the world with magic that glows only for a moment and wonder that dances forever in our hearts.

Because God never intended for us to lose our amazement. He never wanted us to walk through life scientifically explaining away the miracles He created.

No, I think He wanted us to live a little more like the children who kiss the sun goodnight and marvel at the endless amount of diamonds in the sky. I think He wanted us to hold onto wonder and light up the world with our belief that the world is magical after all.

The Alleged Singleness Expert

Once you’ve written a book on singleness, people tend to assume that anything involving singleness, marriage, or dating must interest you. If I had a dollar for every time someone came up to me to point out yet another book, blog post, seminar, etc. about relationship statuses, I might actually be making decent money off this accidental venture of mine. And I might be less inclined to roll my eyes every time someone approached me with yet another you-name-it.

Because, seriously, it happens all the time and, honestly, I’m not all that interested in talking about romance and relationships.

So when a friend of mine posted a link on my wall saying she thought I would like it, I had one of those “ugh” moments. Except the title of this blog really intrigued me.

“I don’t wait anymore,” it said. So I clicked the link and read what may honestly be the best message on singleness I ever read.

Seriously.

Go read it and see what you think.

“’True Love Waits.’ Waits. What’s it ‘waiting’ for, anyway?”

Apparently I’m not the only person in the world who discovered that waiting is not always a good thing. Someone aside from me realized that the pat answers we give single people do more harm than good. And someone other than me decided that she wasn’t okay with it anymore.

“Whether it was the fault of the leaders, the fault of us girls, or both, a tragedy happened back then. A lot of girls were sold on a deal and not on a Savior.”

Somewhere along the line, we started to get this idea that singleness is an if/then agreement with God.

“If you seek Me first, then I’ll bring the right guy into your life.”

Well okay, God, but is that sort of like how my dad promised we’d get a horse after my brother was potty-trained? Because he’d been wearing big boy pants for seven years when we finally got one, and I don’t know that I can wait seven years for a guy. I’m sort of satisfied now, so could You hurry up a little?

“What if we as girls had learned early on that having Him was everything, not a means to the life we think He would want us to have?”

I completely and totally, wholeheartedly agree with Grace on this one. Somehow we’ve taken something as beautiful as purity and waiting and distorted it until it was all about a guy. But God didn’t give us a season of singleness so we could spend it searching for Mr. Right; He gave us that time to fall in love with Him.

We’ve lost sight of that. We’ve let our focus shift. And we’re insecure and unsatisfied because of it.

“I’ve planned major life decisions around possibilities. I lived like I was waiting for something.”

But you know what? There’s something bigger out there. Something better. God desires so much for you in this season of your life and He is simply waiting for you to reach out and take hold of the life He intended for you.

“I just didn’t want to wait anymore – didn’t want to live like I was waiting on anyone to get here.”

So maybe instead of “True Love Waits,” we should be saying it this way:

It can wait. It can wait until we’ve figured out what’s truly important in life. It can wait until we realize that what we’ve really been missing has been right there all along. After all…

“I already have Him … and He is everything.”

Remind Me Once Again…

You know how it is when you keep reading the same thing over and over again in a dozen different places until you start to get the impression that maybe God is trying to tell you something? That happens to me a lot, it would seem.

I’ve been struggling again with embracing the moments. With contenting myself with the journey instead of yearning for the destination. I’d just like to arrive already, you know? So naturally, when I read Hannah Brencher’s latest post, it deeply resonated with me. You should read the whole thing because it’s beautiful, but to give you a summary, Hannah writes of her impatience with God’s plans and how she often wishes He would show her the whole picture instead of revealing it in pieces. And when she thinks about why He doesn’t, she writes:

“He knows I’ll surely bypass the Little Things to get straight to the Big Things. Steer clear of the hard lessons to propel straight towards the goodness. And then never learn how much it means, or how badly I can want something. So bad that I taste it in my tears when I fall asleep in pillow case puddles one night.”

And then there are the words that God whispers to her on those tear stained nights.  “Life will lose its worth if you are only ripping to find the answers,” and “Trust me, trust me, I am the road map much grander than you.”

I marveled at the words. Found myself surrendering everything all over again saying, “Yes, God. I will trust You.”

Then the next morning I got up and picked up Steven James’ book Becoming Real, which I’ve been reading during my quiet times. And there in those pages I found the words, “God doesn’t usually dump the road map for the rest of our lives into our laps and say, ‘See you at the finish line!’ He wants to walk beside us and call out directions along the way.”

“Trust me, trust me, I am the road map much grander than you.”

And I knew He was trying to tell me something with the whole road map illustration. It sounded to me a little something like, “Hey Rebekah, live the journey here!”

Because I’ve been trying too hard to read a map that was never meant to make sense to my mind. Now I’m trying hard to trust that God does know better than me–to convince myself that I don’t need to know that way; I just need to know that God is walking it with me.

Little by little–day by day–I’m learning what it means to surrender. I’m learning how it feels to live.

The Better Thing

A Very Confused, But Heartfelt Prayer

I want to say that I forgive You, but maybe I should be thanking You instead. Thanking You that You know me better than I know myself. Thanking You that You gave me the best thing, even though I couldn’t see it in the moment.

Because, in a way, You gave me exactly what I asked for—exactly what I thought I wanted. And even though it stung enough to make me question if maybe I thought wrong, it’s exactly what I needed after all.

But then, You always give me what I need. Even when it hurts. Even when it breaks my heart and sets my world to spinning. Even when I’m left asking, “Why?” only to find the why in the form of a prayer I prayed only a few weeks or months earlier. I asked for this. And You said, “Okay.” Then You said that things will only get better from here on out.

And I struggled to believe You. To trust Your promise that this was for the best. To know that Your arms would be there to catch me. But now that I’m coming out of the fog, I see… I see that the view is so much better from up here. That the world seems so much brighter from this vantage point.

I think of all the times I believed I knew the best way—believed my will was more important than Yours. You proved me wrong every single time. Not out of spite, but out of love. Because You saw where my path ended. You saw the destruction that waited up ahead. And You guided me—sometimes gently and more often with a forceful tug—onto the better path.

And here I sit once again, in a place more beautiful than I could have imagined when You first said, “Let’s go this way.” And as I look over the view You’ve set before me, I realize there’s really nothing to forgive. So here is my prayer of thanks… For caring enough about me to not give me what I want. For knowing me better than I know myself. And for always giving me the better thing.